Saturday Notes

16 06 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates today; this morning we took Beatrice to an adoption day but to no avail. We’ll try again next week.

I also started reading Silent Spring and it is quite interesting, especially given my job (a research assistant for a biopesticide program). I’m still working on The Jungle, but I thought I would blast through Carson’s book first before going back to sounding out the various Lithuanian/Polish names and phrases from Sinclair’s book.

On the prospective post front, I’m working on one all about the five species of extinct aquatic sloths from Peru, and I’m hoping to get permission from the researchers to publish a little illustration of 4 of the skulls together for comparison. I’ll put up the finished product either way, but it would be nice to to have the illustration (and I figured it would be nice if I asked permission).

Anyway, I doubt I’ll put anything new up tonight (I may actually be going out; shocking, I know), but perhaps tomorrow I’ll have something new about seals or mosasaurs.

Update: I nearly forgot; today I hit the 30,000 page views mark for this blog. Things are certainly speeding up on here!

Update the 2nd: I added a “Currently Reading” widget to the sidebar. This is likely to change every two to three days, but I figure it’d be a good way to share what I’ve been digging into. Today I hope to finish Silent Spring, afterwards writing an angry letter to Natioanal Geographic about their recent malaria article wherein DDT is dubbed harmless to humans and the canard of “environmentalists have killed 200,000 people because they banned DDT.”


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3 responses

17 06 2007
Cj

In my early years I worked on brook trout ecology and in the spring I wondered at the numbers of wood thrushes and song birds walking the back roads. They were reluctant to fly and appeared to be ill. I “rescued” a number of them but was unable to maintain them for more than two days before they died. We saw few warblers that spring, except dead ones floating in the brooks, and I noted that the local apple orchards were busy spraying pesticides. We commented about this and even applied for research grants but nobody paid much attention until Silent Spring was published. It took Carson’s book to wake the public up to what was happening with DDT, DDE and other pesticide residues and for that at that time, I was enormously grateful.

17 06 2007
laelaps

Thank you for your comment Cj; I’m still amazed by how little attention toxicity gets these days. While I work on a project they tries to get farmers to use biopesticides or OMRI-certified organic products, I do have to wonder if there is a well-researched and well-known database available to the public that tells us about what toxic chemicals are being used on our food. Even more than that, we aren’t usually even aware of what is being sprayed on our food; as long as it arrives on the dinner table, few give much thought to what’s going on.

While I still have some more research to do about the harmful effects of DDT, I was a bit shocked that National Geographic echoed a sentiment I had seen only days before on conservative and intelligent design blogs about how ecologists would rather turn us over to the hungry mandibles of insects that protect suffering malaria victims (the old “won’t somebody think of the children?” argument). I’ll have to read the article again, but I was quite surprised.

Further, everyone links Caron’s book with DDT, but it really is about so much more. She doesn’t sinlge out the chemical to the exclusion of all others, and even though I’m only halfway through the book I feel it is much more about how we are so unaware of what science and chemistry called “progress” before anyone thought twice about pesticides. Indeed, it has become fashionable to demonize Carson and her book, but I have to wonder how many of the critics have actually read her book or understand anything about ecology (i.e. it’s not all about humans or economic benefit).

18 06 2007
Something stinks over at National Geographic… « Laelaps

[…] stinks over at National Geographic… 18 06 2007 As I mentioned this past weekend, the new issue of National Geographic features a cover-story on malaria. Reading over the story […]

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